Hello folks, how are you? I'm here today to tell you that a husband's man flu works wonders - for the wife! Last week I told you about my poor hubby, sniffling and sneezing away into a huge box of tissues - I gave him loads of TLC while he was awake, but my way of getting myself a load of spare time was to put him to bed, ably assisted by antihistamines, hot toddies and those stalwarts of the medicine cabinet, Day Nurse and Night Nurse! I received some fabulous components from one of my regular suppliers and made some jewellery immediately with them - in fact, the components are so beautiful, the necklaces designed themselves!
I also finished a couple of pieces I have been working on for a while, two of which are to go to the USA, to my friend who commissioned them.
I've been embroidering this piece for ages and only managed to put it together this week. I had intended it to be a three piece pendant, and made it up and took photographs of it, only to decide the next day that it would be better off with only two pieces. It just seemed too unwieldy and the bottom piece kept twisting on itself. So before I could change my mind, out came the scissors and Snip Snip - that was that!!
The beads used in between the turquoise are of Chrysanthemum stone, which I have wanted to buy for simply ages. Chrysanthemum stone or Flower stone is an ancient Chinese stone, approximately 270 million years old. It is a dark gray to black limestone matrix with andalusite crystals, taking on the appearance of a chrysanthemum. The black rock itself is a piece of limestone which is dark because of the presence of substantial amounts of organic carbon. This rock is from a time when many areas that today make up China were offshore or underwater plateaus.
The white pattern on the rock is formed of elongated crystals of celestine (or celestite), and when seen in larger stones is very pretty, although sometimes accentuated by hand carving and dyeing of the black matrix so it is darker.
The Chrysanthemum Stone is known for integrating change and harmony, and lending the knowledge of how the two work together to help one “bloom” and progress on the path to the perfect Self. It ameliorates negative mindsets and strengthens one’s character, while enhancing compatibility with others and the renewal of relationships. If you believe this, this is the necklace for you. If not, it is so pretty that it doesn't matter, it will still be loved by it's new owner.
My friend from California met me after many, many years and handed me some beads to 'do something with'. The first package was a necklace of tiny faceted pigeon blood rubies that she wanted restrung with a bit of zing put into the necklace, and the second was a broken necklace of what appear to be Czech glass beads and she wanted a pendant with a face for it. Here's what I came up with.
The rubies are only 2-3mm, with tiny holes, and they wouldn't take a beading wire. I had to thread them onto doubled up Fireline using a No 12 beading needle - anyone who beads will know how fine that is! Tying knots at the end was also tricky, but I finally managed it and covered the knots with a dab of glue for added security. I'd never live it down if anything untoward happened to that necklace.
And then I turned my attention to the other string of beads - I had a yak bone face somewhere in my stash, some Shibori ribbon in gentle colours to match her gentle personality, added a few shiny seed beads, made a pendant from it and strung it on the beaded necklace.
We've established that she likes both the pieces and we are now organising the best way for her jewellery to get to her in the USA.
Last week, I talked about the beautiful micro pave connectors I was keen to use, and use them I did. While Mike snored gently, under the influence of Day Nurse, I took the opportunity to finish these pieces.
I think I've done well this week - however the pieces have been made over a couple of weeks, between my work commitments ministering to the sick, and at home, doing exactly the same thing - no wonder I'm suffering from compassion fatigue!
That's me for this week, folks. Have a fabulous Easter break and a great week after, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how are you this week? I've been tending to my husband who has been struck down with the longest lasting, worst man flu in Christendom, or so it seems. But while he slumbers, medicated with antihistamines and other cold remedies, I have time to create, right? Yes, that's what I figured too! So I dosed him with meds at regular intervals and got on with it.
If you've read my blog on my return from Bangkok, you will know that I went to the Palladium mall there where I picked up a few things for Caprilicious. My sister in law was with me and she bargained the traders down until we got what we felt was a fair price - the process can be exhausting, because we have no clue how much an item actually costs - just a ballpark figure where one starts at just below half the asking price and works up. However, my sister in law is made of stern stuff, and she started at one third the asking price, which sometimes made me cringe, but everyone enjoyed the process and we came away happy with our purchases.
The Afghani pendant in this necklace was bought from a tiny shop in this rabbits warren of a mall, where we rummaged around in a great big knotted, balled up stash until we found something we liked. The pendant is teamed with vintage glass beads from Ghana, a Moroccan enamelled bead and a couple of polymer clay beads I made myself.
Rusticana is not a brightly coloured piece, but retains an air of rustic sophistication I like.
A brass stamping, imported from the USA is surrounded by a stylised wirework climbing rose in this pendant. I hung it on a necklace of chunky carnelian and a couple of copper beads, made in the style of silver Bali beads which I bought in a job lot from an Indian trader ages ago and have been saving for a special piece such as this one.
I call the earrings below my faux stained glass earrings - they were made by attaching a piece of Japanese rice paper to the back of the earring and colouring it with alcohol ink and many layers of varnish. I made them ages ago, but only just found the time to make them up into earrings with little crystal dangles and ear wires. The paper is translucent although you cannot tell this from the photographs below.
I've had some beautiful micro pave components come through the letterbox and I shall be making some pretties for my Bling! pages next week. I am so looking forward to using these lovely components.
Having put these words down, I'm off to catch the train to Manchester tonight, as I am at interviews all day tomorrow.
That's me for now folks, have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello everyone, I hope all of you have had a good week and thank you for coming back to my blog. Since I last wrote, I've turned a whole year older and to mark the ageing process, I had a few days leave from work. This year I had time owing in lieu of working a few Bank Holidays and decided to take the whole week off. We went to London at the end of the week and instead of booking a show or play, just spent time mooching around a couple of London's markets.
First stop, Portobello Road Market where we went into one antique stall after another, spoilt for choice and stopping at strategic intervals for coffee and a bite to eat. Saturday is the busiest day in the market and the crowds did not disappoint - it was difficult at times to walk two abreast without bumping into someone. We couldn't possibly see all the stalls, and didn't even go near the ones selling tourist tat. We were exhausted by 5pm and went straight back to the hotel for a quick nap before the next part of the evening - I told you I was a whole year older!
We went to a little cafe called Jazz After Dark at 10 pm and listened to a Jazz Funk group in this tiny little Soho cafe - and when I say tiny, I mean really, really tiny. The tables are almost joined together and are a foot and a half square, at the very most. We were so close to the neighbouring tables that we participated in each others conversations without thinking twice about it. Everyone was very friendly and the musicians were great, although the music was a bit more modern than we would have preferred. The clocks went forward while we were there, so it was 330 am before we took a taxi ride home to our hotel.
The next morning, we went to Covent Garden and wandered around there until it was time to take the train back home. I found a little stall called Woody and Blue where the owner Haroun Ray makes and embellishes hats, and being the embellishment queen that I am, I fell in love with one of them and had it as a birthday gift from hubby. People watching in Covent Garden on a sunny and warm day was a lot of fun, and for a change to my surprise, I even met a few people I knew, who had obviously had the same idea as us and come out to London for the day.
Of course all good things come to an end, and I had to go back to work on the Monday. I sat down with Shibori ribbon and seed beads and a couple of pairs of earrings evolved over the course of the week.
And that's about as much as I had time for this week. Hubby caught my cold from a couple of weeks ago and of course, he suffered ever so much more than I did. So the week was spent administering cold compresses, hot water bottles, warm toddies, massages and generally pandering to his man flu, the terrible symptoms of which he kept under wraps while we were in London(thankfully), only to have a requirement for extreme pampering in repayment for being allowed to enjoy my birthday outing. Ah well, C'est la vie!
Have a lovely week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, lovely to meet you again, and thanks for dropping by at the blog. I've had a fabulous week off from work and it has been pretty eventful. Most times when I stay home, I tend to veg out in front of the TV, waking up late and generally chilling out. This week, I was in London on the Monday at a meeting after which I met a friend I was at university with - she was on her way to Tunisia from San Francisco and I was so pleased to see her after all these years. I met another friend for a drink, went out to dinner with my colleagues and generally had a good time mixing pleasure with leisure, a very strange and rare occurrence for me.
I made a necklace for my friend, who without realising it started me off with Caprilicious. She sent me a box of gemstones and beads all those years ago and gave me carte blanche with the designs I made for her - my first collection! She still has some of the pieces and was even wearing the pair of earrings I made for her eight years ago - you can see them in the picture she sent me. The necklace in the photograph was probably my very first statement necklace, made with bloodstone, turquoise and cream wooden beads.
This time I made her a simple necklace with frosted matte amethyst and citrine beads separated by seed pearls with a single large baroque pearl from a string I picked up in Bangkok. The pearl is flanked by ceramic beads that are electroplated in 18K gold.
Birdie - the last one
This is the last and final 'Birdie Necklace' I plan to make - the other three live in Australia, Bangalore and Texas - who knows where this one will fetch up. The beads are handmade at Caprilicious and all the necklaces are similar and tied together by the birds, however, each one is different.
The Corsage Necklace
This one is going to be one of my most 'statementy' statement pieces! Inspired by a tutorial by Kinga Nichols and the work of Dori Csengeri I made loads of little soutache pieces which I attached to a piece of Laceys Stiff Stuff (the name always makes me want to giggle) covered with stretch velvet material in navy blue. More crystals and beads and shiny things followed, as well as a necklace of six strands of crystal teardrops. The embroidered piece was placed on one side like a corsage and it turned into one hell of a necklace that will be worn by someone discerning, who understands what a statement is all about. She will be a woman of distinction, who likes to be both seen and heard, and I envisage it with a black strapless dress. What do you think?? I'd love to hear what you think of this piece. Love it or hate it, this one will not be ignored.
I'm sure you will appreciate the amount of time and work that has gone into the making of this piece. Labour intensive, but most definitely a labour of love.
That's me for the week gone by folks, have a lovely week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, nice to have you back. I've been playing tourist this week - I've lived and worked in and around Coventry since 1992, but have never been to see Coventry Cathedral, one of the most iconic ruins in this part of the country. The Cathedral is relatively new, having been rebuilt in 1962 after it was razed to the ground in the Second World War. The ruins of the original cathedral exist and one can even climb up into the tower (I didn't). There are loads of lovely old buildings around the cathedral and the whole area is so nice, one would be forgiven for forgetting that we were in Coventry.
The aid raid on Coventry on the night of 14 November 1940 was the single most concentrated attack on a British city in the Second World War. Following the raid, Nazi propagandists coined a new word in Germany - Coventrieren - to raze a city to the ground. Code named 'Moonlight Sonata', the raid lasted for 11 hours and involved nearly 500 Luftwaffe bombers, gathered from airfields all over occupied Europe. The aim was to knock out Coventry as a major centre for war production, and perhaps as revenge on an RAF attack on Munich. 14 November apparently was a brilliant moonlit night, so bright that the traffic could move around on the road without lights. The Luftwaffe dropped 500 tons of high explosive, 30,000 incendiaries and 50 landmines, and was also trying out a new weapon, the exploding incendiary.
It has been claimed in a number of books that the wartime prime minister Churchill knew that the city was to be targeted by the German Luftwaffe, but chose to do nothing because it would have alerted Adolf Hitler to the fact the Allies had recently cracked the Nazis' top-secret Enigma codes. Coventry and its people were sacrificed, the theory goes, "for the greater good".
Shortly after the destruction, the cathedral stonemason, Jock Forbes, noticed that two of the charred medieval roof timbers had fallen in the shape of a cross. He set them up in the ruins where they were later placed on an altar of rubble with the moving words ‘Father Forgive’ inscribed on the Sanctuary wall.
So, why did I feel I should visit the cathedral after so many years? Well, there was an art installation making the rounds of the country, and it came to Coventry Cathedral having been in Hull and Liverpool. The 27ft Knife Angel sculpture is made from 100,000 blades handed into police across the country. It was unveiled in 2017 and artist Alfie Bradley, who created the sculpture at the British Ironworks Centre, said it was a "monument against violence and aggression".
The Knife Angel
I think you'll agree that the angel is a very moving and beautiful object, made from some pretty scary knives. The wings have the blades visible and overlapping one another, while the body has the blades covered over with the hilts of the knives more on sight. The installation is placed at the entrance of the cathedral, to one side of the bronze of the Archangel Michael slaying the devil. The face of the Archangel was modelled on the nephew of the architect of the new cathedral, Basil Spence - not terribly handsome, I thought. The devil had a more interesting face, but maybe that's where the phrase 'devilishly good looking' comes from!
The staggered nave walls are illuminated by ten narrow floor to ceiling windows filled with semi-abstract symbolic designs arranged in pairs of dominant colours (green, red, multi-coloured, purple/blue and gold) representing the souls journey to maturity, and revealed gradually as one approaches the altar.
The altar is dominated by a tapestry of Christ by Graham Sutherland and is thought to be the largest one piece tapestry in the world - I can't imagine how difficult that must have been to make.
My own little efforts pale into insignificance after this.
It was the pinks and the greens in this pair of earrings that gave it its name - spring is in the air, after all. The Shibori ribbon is a pale pink, shading into green and I added crystals and leaves liberally, it was so much fun to make. I first tried it with a gold tone oval stud finding, but changed it to a silver tone shell shaped stud, which to my mind suited it better.
I've found it difficult to take pictures of Shibori Jewellery - the undulation in the ribbon and the fact that the entire thing is not on the flat requires better photography skills than mine, but I'm sure I will get better as I go along. The earrings are very light even though they look large and heavy - they are only 14 gms each and are well supported by the stud findings in the ears.
And after I made these, I developed the worst cold I've ever known and stayed in bed for the rest of the week. I'm only just feeling better in time to post this.
Have a great week folks, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Hello good people, thanks for dropping by again today. I hope you've all had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend ahead. I've been playing with the Shibori ribbon in my stash again, I can't seem to get enough of it. Yet another pair of earrings came off my beading tray this week - I posted a picture of the work in progress on Instagram and the earrings were snapped up straight away.
I love the graceful curves of the pleats when the ribbon is stitched to the backing. The earrings look large and heavy, but in actual fact they are very light and easy to wear.
I suspect you will see a few more of these over the next few weeks. When I came back from my holidays in India, I sat around thinking about the direction in which Caprilicious was leading me - I don't want to make the same old, same old, over and over again. Every year I want to go in a slightly different direction so that both I and my customers don't get bored. I simply couldn't think what I was going to do next to fulfil this requirement until I caught sight of the Shibori ribbon, and off I went.
These little birdies are embellished with tiny flowers and teamed with stripy polymer clay beads in a playful, summery combination of pink and yellow. This is the third birdie necklace I've made - the first one lives in Australia, and the second in India. I wonder where this one will fly away to.
I found out a short while ago that I have been accepted to exhibit at Warwickshire Open Studios at the end of June. They are a self-funded membership organisation run by a voluntary team who are all artists themselves or have an interest in art. They help artists and designer makers across the Warwickshire and Coventry area connect with art-lovers who enjoy, buy, commission and participate in their work.
Warwickshire Open Studios is Coventry and Warwickshires biggest free arts event. During the annual Open Studios Summer Event, there are over 300 artists who open their homes and studios to the public . This year they have four blocks of exhibits through June and I will be exhibiting at the Leamington Spa Museum as I have no studio to show people around - mind you, my husband would say that I have converted the entire house into a studio, with beads and wire and craft supplies everywhere. Nuneaton is too remote from the regular run which is Kenilworth, Warwick, Leamington, Stratford and Rugby/ Dunchurch - mainly in South Warwickshire. I'm pleased that they accepted my application to exhibit at the Museum. Leamington isn't far from me and I can easily drive up there every day. I will be there from the 27th to the 30th of June, and this includes a Saturday and Sunday, which is probably the most productive time to exhibit. Admission to all the exhibits is free. I have an entry on their website, do go along and take a look. I have to admit that it does overawe me a bit, that someone would consider my efforts worthy of a county wide Art Exhibition, and in a Museum, no less, but hey! they are the experts, so they must know what they're on about. I admit to minor pangs of impostor syndrome here.
There was a call for photographs of wire jewellery from the Editor of Making Jewellery for the Inspiration page of the Wirework edition of the magazine, and I sent some in and forgot all about it. I received a magazine in the post this morning, in lieu of them publishing my photographs.
I always have a peacock torque lurking in my cupboard and the second one was made using slices of a polymer clay cane that I made and wove into the fabric of the torque necklace. It was made a while ago, and lives in India now.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a lovely week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello everyone, thanks for joining me today. It is as always great to have your company. The day job has kept me busy and I've offset the stress and tiredness with a bit of Caprilicious to keep me sane. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have Caprilicious and all of you for company.
This week I picked up a length of Shibori silk. I've talked about how they make Shibori silk in a previous post. The ribbon I chose from my little stash, about a foot long is dyed in shades of maroon. I thought of the sumptuous trousers the king of Siam wore in The King and I, and when I spread the ribbon out and ballooned it, I was reminded of them.
I cut out shapes for earrings from Lacy's Stiff Stuff and anchored the silk to it, spreading it out as artistically as I could to show off the difference in colour between the peaks and troughs in the pleated material. I patted myself on the back, ‘they most definitely resemble Yul Brynner's trousers,’ I thought. In fact the outfits he wears in the movie are quite contemporary. I wouldn't mind a jacket like the one he has on myself. There's actually another one he wore in the movie that I'd love to have as well. Aren't they beautiful?? To think this movie was made in 1956, fashion has certainly come full circle!
But, I digress.....
I embellished them lavishly with a brass passion flower, lilac dyed potato pearls, Czech glass leaves that shimmer in the light and tiny seed beads in silver lined orange and antique gold, backed them with ultrasuede and attached them to stud earrings, and Bingo, one of the most sumptuous pieces I've ever made came to life. For once, Instagram and Facebook worked in my favour and the earrings were picked up as soon as I posted them, they never got to hit the website.
The proud owner should have them on Saturday as I posted them out straight away. I work hard to mail jewellery out within 24 hrs of being paid as I reckon that once paid for, the goods belong to the new owner, who should have them asap. That's how I like to receive my purchases and it's one of the reasons Amazon Prime is so popular. I cannot manage a 24 hr turnaround, but the next best thing will have to suffice.
That's me for this week folks. Earrings take a while to make, as they are in essence two pieces. I had to run two threaded needles, and sew them in tandem so that they would look a mirror image of one another. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how are you today? It has been a fabulous week with the weather playing ball and the sun coming out to warm our bones - the warmest February since records began, no less! We made our first trip to the garden centre - the first of many this year, I'm sure. The jet lag has finally left me and I am back to full mental and physical capacity and it feels great. We've already booked our next holidays and although they are a way away, it gives us something to look forward to. I can now proceed to organise my life and activities for the year around my holidays and weekends on call.
I was sent this photograph by a lovely client and thought I'd use it in a different way - I love the quotation because it encapsulates exactly how I feel about Caprilicious. Each person who wears my work is a part of it and my work becomes a part of the life of the wearer. In this way we communicate without a word being said and become a part of each others life experiences, sharing a common thread that connects our reflections on life and developing a mutual understanding of who we are without even having to meet.
I've been meaning to use the beads in this necklace for a long time, I find them quite delightful. I love the naturalness of the material - they are made of slices of a stalactite with the most beautiful crystalline structure, also called solar quartz.
The words stalactite and stalagmite can be traced back to the Greek word "stalassein," which means "to drip." This is fitting because it describes how both are formed in nature. Stalactites and stalagmites grow because of water running over and through inorganic material. It can take a very long time for most stalactites to form - they usually grow anywhere between a quarter-inch and an inch every century. When water dripping from the end of a stalactite falls to the floor of a cave and deposits more calcite into a mound, a stalagmite eventually forms in a cone like shape. When water drips onto your body from a stalactite, it is called a 'cave kiss'!! And I'm led to understand that this is pretty rare as the water takes ages to collect the momentum to fall from the tip of the stalactite.
The slices of stalactite are naturally a creamy white in colour, and can be dyed in beautiful colours. Most of the slices I used in 'Cara' are in their natural state.
This is a necklace that sits close to the neck, but far enough away so that the edges of the beads are not uncomfortable for the wearer. The necklace is very spring like, very reminiscent of sunny summers days, floaty frocks, flowers, straw hats and weddings. The warmth of the weather this week has definitely affected me with this necklace. There's a thought - what would I have made with the same beads at the height of mid winter? I wonder!!
That's me for the week, folks. Have a lovely week, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how are you today. I'm posting this from Manchester, where I am at the moment, although I will be heading back home later today. Manchester is the city I arrived at when I first moved to the UK - we had a little one bedroom apartment in a Victorian building in Didsbury, across the road from Christie's Hospital. I was just married, and had only just passed my exams to qualify as a doctor. As I was not yet qualified to work in the UK, I was a happy little housewife, making a nest in my first home. I enjoyed taking the bus in to Arndale centre, staring open mouthed at the stuff in the windows, feeling like a little country mouse. Culture shock? I was almost paralysed by it!
Anyway, fast forward to just under 35 years and here I am, back in Manchester, training to become an examiner for the PLAB exam - the dreaded Professional and Linguistics Board Exam that all foreign medical graduates have to take to be able to work in the UK. I have now come full circle, having passed that exam myself in 1989.
I've taken a bit of a break from making jewellery, just coasting, keeping my hand in by revising and repairing pieces that seemed to need attention.
This is a necklace of black ceramic and brushed silver tone beads that I originally made in three strands, with a handsome black onyx clasp that looked really good around the neck. However, when it was worn, it was so heavy that people were bound to find it difficult to wear. I rationalised it with the thought that women hurt and deform their feet wearing impossible stiletto heels, and can be mildly masochistic in the interest of looking good. And there was no doubt that the necklace looked good!
However, painful shoes are generally de rigueur on an evening - nobody would want to add another element to their pain, especially if there was a difficult hairdo or even a hat thrown into the mix. Sticks and stones might not break bones, but a heavy necklace and stiletto heels will feel like they have.
I took the necklace to India with me, but put people off from buying it and modified it this week.
This is what the original piece looked like, and although it was sad to have to break it up, I think I was right to do so. At least now, although it will never be a lightweight piece, the necklace is wearable.
Here are a couple of other pieces I made using the ceramic beads - these are single strands and have pendants woven with tarnish resistant silver plated wire and are even lighter than the necklaces above.
I remade a necklace for one of my customers as she requested the citrine and amethyst in a necklace I had designed were swapped out with pearls. As she didn't really want the beads back, I made a simple piece with little seed pearls for an old friend who I had arranged to meet up with in Manchester - I first met her all those years ago, and she took me under her wing. She was very kind to me in those first bewildering days in a new country, so I thought I'd give her a little gift.
That's me for this week, folks. I've only just got over crippling jet lag and will probably be back at my workbench with a vengeance next week. Have a fantastic week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, it's lovely to catch up with you again after a few weeks off. As you might've read in my previous posts, I've been on a visit to India and a mini break to Bangkok. It was great to see my mother again, and I met up with a load of friends and relatives in India, but it was a quiet holiday there compared to the last time when we celebrated my mother's 90th birthday. I was very excited about the trip to Thailand, having never been before and being a big fan of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I. Yul Brynner played the role of the King on Broadway for years before the film was made - the musical was called Anna and the King of Siam. I found myself looking for Yul Brynner lookalikes constantly, but alas, there were none.
We stayed at the Radisson Blu on the main drag, the Sukhumvit Road - it was truly the road that never sleeps. The traffic built up on the road from before six am and didn't let up, till 3am. In spite of that we managed to cross to road to get to the fabulous massage parlour 'Lek' each night. Lek stayed open every night till 1am and we lay in a row having various parts of our anatomy pummelled and kneaded into shape, in preparation for the rigours of the next day.
The hotel was fabulous, in keeping with what one would expect from a Radisson Blu - it freaked me out that they had a pane of glass between the bedroom and the loo, until I located an electrically operated shutter, Phew! There was the obligatory rooftop infinity pool, a fabulous Chinese Dimsum restaurant where we stuffed ourselves silly on the last day and fabulous views of the skyscrapers of downtown Bangkok from the rooftop bar.
We drove out to the Floating Market - it took us an hour to get there, and when we did, it was the most awful tourist trap, with us in a motorboat zooming over dirty water, sucking in petrol fumes, sitting ducks for any vendor who caught our eye. It got so bad that we didn't dare look at anything lest the vendor pounce on us and try to get us to buy something. The prices for the tourist tat were pretty steep, and we found the same goods elsewhere with a pre bargaining asking price that was a quarter to a third of those in the floating market. Our driver was very helpful and took us there and back without mishap. Michael decided that he wanted to have a suit made and we ended up in a swanky shop called 'James Tailor' - 'James', whoever he was, had a major operation with two air conditioned shops on either side of the road, a fleet of cars, chauffeurs and loads of salespeople who obviously worked on commission. A bit of sharp bargaining, (which embarrassed my English husband who was asked to be quiet or forgo his suit) and we had ourselves a perfectly made mohair suit, sewn to Mikes measurements in a day. Everyone was happy, apart from 'James' who didn't expect any bargaining from us.
We had decided on seeing the emerald Buddha that was inside the royal palace and the reclining Buddha in a nearby building, but by the time we got there and parked miles away from the palace and then walked to the entrance, they had closed the shrine and we decided to go back there the next morning.
Built within the grounds of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew or 'The Temple of the Emerald Buddha' is the most important and most visited temple in Bangkok. One of the most significant features of Wat Phra Kaew is the Emerald Buddha, carved into a 66 cm tall block of Jade. However, they had covered the Buddha with gold cloth and all we could see from very far away was a tiny green face. The palace itself is very beautiful with intricate carvings and embellishments everywhere. I could imagine Yul Brynner in this setting, and looked for him in vain. There is a two km long gallery covered with incredibly detailed mural paintings depicting scenes from the epic story of the Ramayana. It is a huge complex and a proper exploration would have taken us a whole day. We spent a couple of hours there, and a bit disappointed by the emerald Buddha, we decided to go on to the Golden Buddha in a tuk- tuk - one can't go to Thailand and not use one of them. If the Emerald Buddha was too small for us, the golden one was huge, and had to be photographed in segments!
That was all the sightseeing done, now to hit the shops! My sister in law and I took off in a tuk-tuk, leaving the men by the pool. We went to the Palladium mall and looked around the bead shops and I picked up a few strings of baroque pearls and some nugget beads. I looked into a load of shops but didn't really want to carry back beads that I would be able to source for almost the same price online and have the added benefit of having them delivered to the house. I also thought that Jaipur was much better value for money, or perhaps I was just tired after all the wandering about. Whatever the reason was, I didn't do too much shopping. We found a shop with the most beautiful antique Afghani jewellery - the owner was a rotund Pashtun who had spread a mat down and was taking his post prandial siesta when we walked in. We asked him for prices of his jewellery, and retreated in shock at what he quoted, certainly way beyond my budget!
We went to see the Ladyboys in a show called Calypso - I must confess that I had expected a Carnival style extravaganza, but this show was a bit more restrained, set to jazz and swing music.
And that was it, our time in Bangkok was over. We made a trip into Patpong where the callers tried to lure us in to visit the girls half heartedly. They could see that we weren't interested, but tried anyway in a good natured desultory sort of way, waving their 'menus' at us, just in case. I bought a few souvenirs in the street market there and we got on the most Godawful, cramped, Air Asia flight back to Bangalore - as a budget airline it is probably one of the worst I've been on, never again!
So that's the story of my trip to Bangkok, folks. I hope you enjoyed the read. Bangalore was pretty tame and uneventful in comparison as we did the same things over again - off to the Bangalore club, visited relatives, met friends and generally relaxed before we had to come home and back to work.
That's me for this week, have a great week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.